No Safe Place

I started to write about how I don’t feel safe in Trump’s America but the truth is this election has made me say out loud I have never felt safe in America. The truth is there is no safe space for black people and there never has been. For me growing up in a majority white community and when I said majority white I mean being the one little spot of brown, my so-called safe space was the illusion of post-racialness. That bubble didn’t last for long. People were sure to put me in my place the first time that somebody’s white child had a crush on me or l on them. When one dares to be a little too smart, too pretty or to good at anything someone lets you know, “you’re smart-for a black girl” “you’re pretty-for a black girl”or my favorite “l didn’t know black people could do that”.

White supremacy is insidious and long before I knew the name for it there it was. Ever present always there lurking. Just waiting to make your day worse. Waiting to block your sunshine. Waiting to knock you off your ladder to success. Waiting to tell you your beauty isn’t the standard. Waiting just to make sure you know you are not welcome. Pretty soon you’re not a child and it’s housing you don’t get or assumptions about your parenting. Oh don’t get me wrong my life is full of so-called good white people you know the ones the ones who love me but made sure to tell me how they really felt about interracial dating. The ones who like me but seem to never hire black people. The ones who make sure to tell me but you’re not like those other black people it’s almost like you’re not really black. We have never been able to out run racism or the violence that comes because of it. The bullying, the fights, the police harassment and the systemic oppression.

For years folks have said if you just reach out and talk to people who don’t agree with you things will change I call bullshit. Just integrate schools and sing kumbaya and teach that all MLK stood for was “l have a Dream” everything will be fine. I grew up with nothing but white people until I was 14 and mostly white people after that and guess what many of those white people who love me and my children so much voted for Donald Trump. They could do so telling themselves their conscience was clear because they had a “black friend”. They had a black friend that they stood by when she was a single mom who they took pity on who even though they were better than in their own mind they were good enough to hang out with because they were “good white people” who look past color. They didn’t see color they didn’t see it so much that they make sure to talk about it all the time about how they have a black friend.

Folks it’s not enough to get white kids diverse friends if you won’t talk about whiteness. It’s not enough for you to say you don’t see color. I need you to see me all of me black me, queer me, woman me poor me. All. Of. Me. l need you to hear my pain and actually listen when l speak. You need to teach your children, friends, family and yourselves about anti blackness. You need to fight for anti-racism (not colorblindness) that’s what we need you to do. That’s what I need you to do. Don’t ask me to do it for you. You do it. You save white people. Stop asking us to do it.

Racism didn’t just suddenly find us in this election. lt has always been with us. It is the cornerstone of our country. It is who we are it has always defined us. The only difference is that in the last 50 years it became impolite to speak it and illegal to discriminate in many ways (on paper at least). Yet when a black man became president white people really felt like they were losing their power because Latinos are growing in numbers and black people, Native Americans and even WOMEN were protesting for their rights again.  Suddenly they felt they needed to say all the things that they’d only been saying in private or when they thought we weren’t listening.

No America this is not a new problem. This is not new anger. This is not new white hatred. This is old unsolved unspoken  undealt with leftover racist bigotry ethnocentric white supremacist trash thinking that we need to do away with. So  folks now is the time to figure out who you are. Do we work to confront these beliefs in real ways? Do we engage real truth and racial conciliation or once again ignore the truth in favor a fake politeness and fake equality? Equality on paper, equality in law books but not in function. That is a decision only we can collectively decide before it’s too late.

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